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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Local Architect Urges Defeat of PSH Ordinance and Explains Why; Comment Time Over 31 Oct

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The white structure under the tree is a two-story house with a covered deck.  The 19-story building is the Waterside condominium, a C4-OX zoned project.

Dan Whalen, local architect, says new PSH ordinance is written specifically to put high-rise (C4-0x) zoning project next to single-family residences at Thatcher Yard.

Previously, the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC), in order to protect surrounding properties to a PF (public facility) zoned property, stated that the PF zoned property, when rezoned, would comply with the “‘most restrictive” zoning of the prevailing surrounding properties, which would be R-1.

The new PSH ordinance says  new zoning will comply with the “least restrictive” meaning the highest zoning in the area within 1320 feet.That would be C4-OX, which has an adjoining building 19 stories. Venice doesn’t get higher than that.

Dan Whalen urges all Venetians to write letters to defeat this proposed PSH ordinance.

By Dan Whalen

Background
The City has entered into an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with Thomas Safran and Associates to develop the former Thatcher Maintenance Yard into a high-density multi- family Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) project.

The Thatcher Maintenance Yard site is currently zoned “Public Facility” (PF) and would need to be re-zoned prior to any PSH development. To ensure that the future use of a PF-zoned lot is compatible with adjoining properties, the Los Angeles City Municipal Code (LAMC) includes mandates to protect adjoining lower-density properties whenever PF- zoned sites are redeveloped.

The Municipal Code states that only those uses allowed by the most restrictive adjoining zones shall be permitted. Therefore, because the Thatcher Yard site is bordered on three sides by R1-1 single-family residences, any zoning other than R1-1 is not allowed under the current Municipal Code.

New PSH Ordinance
To bypass this long-standing code requirement, Councilman Bonin is supporting a new City Ordinance. This new Ordinance would eliminate the Municipal Code protections for adjoining properties if the PF-zoned property is specifically redeveloped as a PSH project (such as the one proposed for Thatcher Yard). In this case, instead of being limited by the most restrictive adjoining zoning, PSH projects on PF-zoned lots could be re-zoned with the least restrictive zoning within a quarter mile radius.

For the Thatcher Yard, that would mean the allowable new zoning would be the same as for the three high-rise residential towers located at the south end of the Oxford Triangle. This new zoning would be C4-OX-2D, one of the densest allowed for any residential project.

Of all the proposed PSH sites within the City, the Thatcher Yard is the only one located on a PF-zoned site with adjoining single-family homes. The new Ordinance appears to be specifically written for the Thatcher Yard project alone.

In addition to the zoning change for PSH projects, the new Ordinance would also allow 35% increases in the allowable height, 35% increases in the allowable floor area, and decreases in both the minimum required setbacks and minimum amount of open space.

At least one-half of all PSH units will be reserved for the formerly homeless. The new Ordinance does not require any parking for these units. The Ordinance allows additional parking reductions for the remaining PSH units, as well as reductions in the required guest parking.

Impact of New Ordinance
This Ordinance attempts to override the Coastal Act, the certified Venice Land Use Plan and the Oxford Triangle Specific Plan.

The Ordinance allows for high-density zoning that will overwhelm adjoining single-family homes and our residential streets. The allowable increases in the mass, scale and character of the new PSH projects will negatively impact all adjoining single-family homes.

The new Ordinance eases parking requirements and will force at least half the PSH residents to park on adjacent residential streets. With the existing parking shortage in Venice, this Ordinance would only make a bad situation much worse.

The decisions made today for new PSH projects will be contractually fixed for the next
55 years. If the new Ordinance is allowed to pass, it will have a profound and long-lasting negative impact on our neighborhood and a very small positive impact on the homeless crisis.

Call to Action
Councilman Bonin assured our neighborhood that the “planning process would be followed”. Let’s make sure he honors that commitment and is not allowed to remove essential Municipal Code protections.

Changes to the Municipal Code should not be taken lightly, and certainly not because of single project. I urge you to tell Councilman Bonin, Mayor Garcetti, the Planning Department, other City Council members, your Venice Neighborhood Council, and the California Coastal Commission that this Ordinance is short-sighted and not in the best interests of our community.

The proposed PSH Ordinance is seriously flawed and needs to be defeated in its current form. However, the City is on the fast-track to get it approved. The public comment period ends on October 31 with a City Council vote for approval in November.

LA City Planning PSH Ordinance Point of Contact
cally.hardy@lacity.org

LA City Officials:
mayor.garcetti@lacity.org
councilmember.cedillo@lacity.org
councilmember.krekorian@lacity.org
councilmember.blumenfield@lacity.org
david.ryu@lacity.org paul.koretz@lacity.org
councilmember.martinez@lacity.org
councilmember.harris-dawson@lacity.org
councilmember.price@lacity.org
councilmember.wesson@lacity.org
councilmember.englander@lacity.org
councilmember.ofarrell@lacity.org
councilmember.huizar@lacity.org
councilmember.buscaino@lacity.org
councilmember.Rodriguez@lacity.org
vince.bertoni@lacity.org
tricia.keane@lacity.org
ezra.gale@lacity.org
debbie.dynerharris@lacity.org

Venice Neighborhood Council
president@venicenc.org

California Coastal Commission Official:
Chuck.Posner@coastal.ca.gov

Snapchat Discussed, VNC BBQ Cancelled, Oxford Triangle Resolution Rescinded … VNC Meet

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Residents of Oxford Triangle wait their turn to speak regarding the Oxford Triangle resolution they wanted rescinded.

By Angela Mcgregor,

Snapchat’s impact on the Venice community was discussed at Tuesday’s VNC Meeting. Community Officer Colleen Saro discussed her meeting with Snap, Inc. representatives, in which she expressed many of the community’s concerns — mainly about the Snap Security Squad and their apparent hostility toward tourists and transients alike. According to Snap, the security detail was hired to protect their employees, who have had incidents of harassment with the homeless as they make their way from one Snap location to another. Company reps pointed up Snap’s numerous, charitable contributions to the community, including coding classes at St. Joseph’s, showers at Safe Place for Youth, and a variety of projects at Venice’s elementary schools. Ms. Saro invited representatives from Snap to attend an upcoming VNC meeting, in order to address community concerns, but they refused (for now).

Various residents followed up her presentation with their own commentary about Snap, including the news that the Venice Freak Show on Ocean Front Walk will be closing in May due to Snap’s taking over their lease.

Both LUPC Consent Calendar items — a demolition/new build at 2334 Cloy and a demolition/new 2 unit condo build at 656 California, were approved.

VNC Board President Ira Koslow announced that there will be no Venice Community Barbecue in 2017. After 10 years of organizing the event, the organizers are simply “worn out”, he stated. It should be noted that a component of the Venice community called for a boycott of the BBQ last year after what they stated were “micro aggressive comments” made by the organizers at a VNC meeting (see: http://savevenice.me/boycott-venice-nc-bbq. Despite that, the 2016 event was a success and the BBQ will be missed.

Koslow also announced that the selection of a new Board member to fill a seat on the Board left vacant by the resignation of Erin Darling would be postponed until the April meeting, due to an incorrect date being posted on the nomination form.

Finally, a motion passed last month regarding development at the Thatcher Maintenance Yard in the Oxford Triangle was rescinded. At the February 21st meeting, a motion was presented calling for the VNC Board to support only R-1 (single family) housing there; this motion was amended to replace “R-1” with “multi-family”, thereby reversing the original intent of the motion. Many of the dozen or so Triangle residents speaking in favor of motion to rescind pointed out that amending a motion in order to reverse its original intent appeared to be a violation of Robert’s Rules of Order.   The motion to rescind passed the board 13-0-1.

The May 2017 VNC Board meeting will be held on the third Wednesday in May, rather than the third Tuesday, due to a conflict with a local election.

 

Thatcher Yard — Residents Want to Know What is Happening

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(Photo courtesy of Linda Vaughan.) Thatcher Maintenance Yard. Soil tests for an Environmental Impact Report?

Neighbors really want to know what is going on with the Thatcher Maintenance Yard.

The Yard, 93,000 sq feet, was designated as one of the first City salvage projects. It was to be rezoned to RD1.5 and designated for affordable housing. City Administrator put out RFQ/P to developers. Thomas Safran Associates were selected for the Yard with their dual proposal of 86 to 152 units with a mix of 60 percent market rate, 30 percent affordable, and 10 percent permanent supportive housing.

That was November. Plans are supposedly to be presented to City in March. It is March. No one has approached the Oxford Triangle members regarding this project. Blake Coddington of Safran group was supposedly talking with individual residents regarding the project at one of the Venice public meetings.

Meanwhile, proposition HHH was passed which would provide funds for building 100 percent affordable projects on the Yard — no market rate. A neighborhood request by a small group of residents went thru the LUPC and the VNC requesting that the Yard stay City maintenance or be rezoned R-1. VNC almost unanimously voted that down and asked for “multi-housing” use.

March 7 is an election for City council seat and a Measure S. Measure S would stop spot rezoning projects… except for affordable housing projects unless project requires general plan changes. Both these projects require both spot rezoning and general plan changes. So a “YES” for Measure S supposedly would stop both projects for at least two years. A vote “No” would mean business as usual, spot rezoning and changing the plans.

Incumbent Mike Bonin is for developmening the two lots. He wants Measure S to be defeated so he can build affordable housing on both. Mark Ryavec is not for developing either property for homeless. He is for Measure S. In the case of the Yard, he wants property zoned R-1 and sold to a developer. Robin Rudisill supports Measure S. She says keeping the Yard for maintenance should be reconsidered; otherwise, the community has spoken for R-1. The Venice Median she says she would honor the Land Use Plan certified by the California Coastal Zone, which means it would not be developed. So incumbent is only candidate for developing both lots and Measure S.

To add confusion to the pot, Councilman Mike Bonin, who is for developing the properties, answered a Venice Update question regarding the sale of the properties and using the monies for homeless in other areas as follows:

It is also important to note – despite repeated assertions to the contrary – that the City has not decided what or even whether to build on these properties. The City has only allowed affordable housing developers the opportunity to propose at these sites. At this point, there are no actual proposals. The housing developers who were assigned to each of the Venice sites are conducting community and neighborhood outreach before they propose something. Then, those proposals must be reviewed by the Land Use and Planning Committee of the Venice Neighborhood Council, the full Venice Neighborhood Council, and then the City planning approval process and likely the California Coastal Commission.

Meanwhile, a local resident and architect, wrote to Councilman Mike Bonin and all the council members:

You have bypassed not only the VNC and their LUPC, but also your constituents. None of the documents regarding site selection, contractor selection or RFQ submissions have been made available to the public. The development is being fast-tracked with virtually no public review, and without open and transparent procedures that the City would demand of any developer.

Tent with occupant in front of  Yard.

Tent with occupant in front of Yard.

Meanwhile, a tenter was happy living in front of the Yard for about a week until the rig disturbed his solitude or someone moved him on. Residents asked if the tenter was first in line for a place.

Residents really want to know what is happening? Residents know the rules, yet things are happening without their knowledge, input, or due process.

Triangle Resident Says “No” to Bonin Homeless Plan for Thatcher Yard

Dan Whalen, Oxford Triangle resident, architect, and co-author 1988 community input for the final City-approved Oxford Triangle Specific Plan, is against any plan to construct a high-density complex at the Thatcher Maintenance Yard and has written Councilman Mike Bonin to state his reasons. The letter is addressed to all the City Council members so they too will understand.

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Santana Says Venice Median and Thatcher Yard to be Developed; Names Developers

Venice Median

Venice Median

 

Thatcher Yard

Thatcher Yard

 

Note: This announcement is almost verbatim from the Council Office and written by David Graham-Caso, communications director.

 

The City Administrative Officer (CAO) Miguel Santana is recommending that eight city-owned parcels throughout Los Angeles be the first wave of properties considered for housing development.

In Venice, the CAO is recommending that Thomas Safran & Associates be given the chance to work with the community to design a proposal for the old Thatcher Yard, and that the team of Hollywood Community Housing Corporation and Venice Community Housing Corporation be given the chance to work with the community to design a proposal for the Dell Pacific parking lot.The size and type of housing in each proposal will be determined following the community input process that Mike has insisted the developers conduct.

Once Thomas Safran Associates or Hollywood Community Housing Corp/Venice Community Housing Corp. create and submit their proposals, they will be subject to the same process as any development proposal in Venice – which includes review and public input at the neighborhood council, through the Department of City Planning, the full City Council, and most likely, the California Coastal Commission.

Thomas Safran & Associates has three properties on the Westside: Del Rey Square, 124 units of low-income housing for seniors, including 30 formerly homeless seniors, in Del Rey; Redwood Village, 50 units of low-income senior housing in Marina del Rey; and the newly opened The Woods at Playa Vista, 83 units of senior low-income housing in Playa Vista. (Thomas Safran & Associates was also selected to create a proposal for a former animal shelter in West Los Angeles.)

Venice Community Housing & Hollywood Community Housing have a recently opened building in Del Rey, the Gateway Apartments, offering 21 units for formerly homeless people. VCHC operates more than 16 buildings and offers more than 200 units of housing on the Westside. Hollywood Community Housing Corporation has more than 20 buildings and 700 units of housing, mostly in the Hollywood area.

“Thomas Safran & Associates and the team of Hollywood Community Housing and Venice Community Housing are already part of the solution on the Westside, and I am excited to learn there is a potential for these organizations to provide more housing here for those who most need it,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin. “Voters just approved Proposition HHH, allowing us to help build 10,000 units of affordable or homeless housing in Los Angeles. I hope Thomas Safran & Associates, HCHC, and VCHC will be able to be among the first to help fulfill the voters commitment. I look forward to the start of their community outreach efforts, and I am eager to see what sort of proposals they offer.”

The types of housing that the CAO recommends be included in the proposal include: permanent supportive housing, affordable multi family housing, mixed income housing, affordable homeownership, and what the CAO describes as “innovative methods of housing.”  Innovative methods of housing in this case are described as “modular, prefab, or micro units.”

Pardue Analyzes Eight Properties to be Built On/Sold for Homeless

By Kip Pardue

This is an update about the proposed developments in Venice (and beyond). I hope this helps all Venetians understand this process a bit better…

The city has sent out a sort of “bulk” request for proposal in the name of expedition. They combined all 8 of the city properties they want to develop into housing for the homeless. This RFP is open ONLY to pre-approved developers – they are pre-approved based on past work they have done for the city or for private affordable housing projects.

These developers will then look at the list of properties and will make proposals on one or even all the lots. The proposals are due in mid-September sometime. These will not be detailed drawings or include things like EIR’s or mock-ups or models…it sounds like they will be a bit broader in spectrum. The city will then look at these bids and select the ones they like best or the ones they feel are the most feasible (the public info has zero explanation on this process). After that, the public process SHOULD begin – more detailed information will start to come to us on what the city has determined (things like number of units, type of person living there, if there is a commercial element, etc).

Bits I took away from the RFP that I find interesting:

There are 8 lots on this list. They continue to say they might be used to build on or they might be sold depending on feasibility.

Here is a breakdown of the list:

The first property is actually 5 contiguous lots east of the 5 freeway in Lincoln Heights. It’s a commercial district – lots of retail and close to transportation hubs, employment opportunities, and services. To my eyes, this is a perfect place for a large mixed-use development that includes housing for the homeless.

The second is an undeveloped plot of land in Sylmar, north of LA. It’s in a lightly populated area – somewhat close to a few apartment complexes – that borders the 210 and the Angeles National Forest beyond that. Pictures show it as a hill next to a highway…Tough to say how close it is to transportation or services but a large development there would seemingly have very little impact on current residents of Sylmar.

The third is a smaller lot near the 110 freeway. It currently sits as an empty lot in a commercial district with no residents in shouting distance. The highway is just to it’s west. Because it is small, the city is recommending stacked housing or even micro-units on this site. This lot has seemingly zero value as of now but could be a great place for this type of development.

The fourth through the eighth are comprised of the four CD11 lots and one in CD15. These five lots represent a VASTLY different perspective from the first three.

The Thatcher Yard is obviously in a 100% residential district, surrounded almost entirely by single family homes.

The Venice Blvd Median lot is in a 100% residential district, surrounded almost entirely by single family homes in the heart of Venice’s tourist district. The area is congested as is – crushed by tourists, residents, and an already-huge homeless population.

Neither of the Venice locations are close to transportation hubs or commercial areas that might better provide employment opportunities, shopping alternatives, and easy assimilation for a transitioning formerly homeless individual. The Venice properties also have the California Coastal Commission to contend with (and the Venice Specific Plan). The Venice properties also happen to have real estate values that dwarf any of these other properties – almost comically so. These two properties are easily worth a combined $100 million (more depending on rezoning potential) that, if sold, could be used towards housing the homeless (in fact, the city’s well-publicized $138 million budget to combat homelessness INCLUDES the sale of properties – thought none have been sold as of yet).

The sixth property is a parcel in WLA – just off Bundy near Olympic Blvd. The area is a mix of commercial and residential, quite near single family homes. The lot is currently occupied by a former animal shelter. It is close to the new Expo Line station and does have access to commercial spaces. The land is certainly valuable from a financial prospect, but not anywhere near the Venice lots. This location – if handled delicately – could be a nice location for a mixed development – one that serves the current residents and provides a combination of low-income and housing for the homeless.

The seventh property is an abandoned fire station in Westchester that has been vacant for over 10 years (??!!). This property is also in a residential district – surrounded by single family homes. It is somewhat close to the more commercial Sepulveda Blvd, which provides some transportation and employment opportunities, but is by no means “part” of that area. The property is in a quiet neighborhood that would certainly be impacted by a development for housing homeless.

The final property is another abandoned fire station (??) in San Pedro. This lot is also in a very residential area and surrounded by single family homes and multi-unit structures. It has relatively zero options for employment, transportation, or commercial opportunities.

What will happen now:

According to the RFP and per Mike Bonin, the city will conduct feasibility studies of ALL the properties in August. I hate to assume anything, but it sure seems to me like the first three properties have far fewer hurdles than the final 5 and also happen to be far less valuable if sold. Hopefully the feasibility study will agree. I will do some research to try and learn more about this study but do not have high hopes for it being a “transparent” process.

The “scoring” for the returned RFP’s will be on a 100 point scale – with 60 points awarded to the developer based on PREVIOUS projects and 40 from their idea for the lot (or lots) on this list – which seems utterly shocking to me given the obvious hurdles ALL of these project will face.

Every private developer, architect, engineer, and real estate person I have spoken with is quick to say just how difficult it would be develop the two Venice lots. Both are so large and so detailed they would far surpass the abilities of most “not-for-profit” developers.

This process is certainly moving forward per the city…but I just cannot imagine how the feasibility of the these 8 lots – when compared to each other – could put the solution in Venice. The money, the CCC, the size, the already huge and terrifying homeless population, the growing population of families with children in Venice, the lack of transportation access, lack of employment opportunities, the lack of reasonable shopping alternatives, the tourists, the parking…all of it HAS to be taken into account. The first three are more ideal in EVERY CONCEIVABLE WAY.

This is, of course, my opinion…but as a resident who will potentially be affected in myriad ways, I hope it holds some weight.

Yard Buildings, Fence Gone; Blue Fence Coming; Bonin Wants Yard

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City Maintenance Yard on Thatcher with all the buildings and six-foot wall down.

Blue Fence Coming

Yard to be fenced with wrought iron (with curve), 8-foot BLUE fence, according to Debbie Dyner-Harris, District Director for Councilman Mike Bonin.

You may have seen how they are progressing well on the Yard demolition. I wanted to let you know about the fencing you’ll be seeing shortly. It is still 8′ wrought iron, with a curve on the top. However, the location of the fencing has been slightly changed. Sanitation was going to install the fencing on the outside of the trees to prevent people from climbing the trees to access the empty lot. However, it was determined that the trees’ root systems and property line location would make that installation very problematic, including either significantly damaging the root systems or putting the fencing in the public right of way. We don’t want to hurt the trees, and we can’t put the fence in the easement, so we have to put it inside the trees.

It will be set back from the trees farther than where the current wall is now, and the design of the fencing will make it pretty impossible for anyone to get in and certainly out as there are no footholds on the fencing. In general, we think the fact that there will be nowhere to hide out there, or even get out, should be significant deterrents.

Finally, rather than giving you a black wrought iron ugly fence to look at, it is going to be blue, as a reminder of how close you are to the ocean. I hope that is okay!

Bonin Wants Yard for Housing

Councilman Mike Bonin announced several months ago that the City Maintenance Yard on Thatcher was being considered for affordable housing.  The following is the letter he distributed to members of the community in close proximity.

Los Angeles is taking action to address the City’s housing shortage, stem the dramatic loss of affordable housing, and put an end to homelessness. The City of Los Angeles is determined to solve these issues, and earlier this year approved its Comprehensive Homelessness Strategy report to address homelessness and the housing crisis.

A critical component of the City’s Homelessness Strategy involves evaluating existing surplus, vacant or underused City-owned properties – either by building affordable housing on-site, or by selling the property to build housing at another location. The City will be examining all of its surplus, vacant and underused properties for these purposes – and one of the first ones we are evaluating are Thatcher Yard (at 3233 S. Thatcher Avenue) in Venice.

Mayor Garcetti and I have asked the City Administrative Officer (CAO) to begin a public process to best determine how to utilize the property. Should we offer a long-term lease to a developer who builds a mix of housing and other neighborhood amenities on site? Should we sell it to the highest-bidder and build affordable housing at another location? Should we do something different?

In the coming months, we will be holding public meetings in your community and distributing public surveys to get your feedback. We will also be creating an advisory panel of local residents to help consider and vet ideas for the property.

As a first step, the CAO is going to ask housing developers to look at our surplus, vacant and underused City properties and generate ideas for public consideration. That will give the City, you, and your neighbors a range of possibilities to evaluate and refine for further public discussion.

Please share this information with your neighbors, friends or colleagues. To share your views on how to best utilize the surplus, vacant or underused property to address the housing crisis, or if you would like to receive updates on the public process, please visit http://www.11thdistrict.com/potential_affordable_housing_opportunities_comments.

Regards,

MIKE BONIN
Councilmember, 11th District

Yard Going, Neighbors Get Notification

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One of the last truck loads of equipment from the City Maintenance Yard on Thatcher leaves the yard prior to demolition.

Councilman Mike Bonin sent a letter out to neighbors stating that the City Maintenance Yard on Thatcher, and commonly referred to as the Thatcher Maintenance Yard, would be demolished and a wrought-iron fence would be put up surrounding the property. Work would begin next week.

He mentions near the end that he wants to rezone the property for affordable housing but would thoroughly vet the prospect with the community.

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Yard Demolition Slipped to January

Yard

The City Maintenance Yard at Thatcher and Princeton will have demolition starting in January instead of December, according to Debbie Dyner-Harris, District Director for Councilman Mike Bonin.

“Due to the fact that the California Coastal Commission has denied our emergency permit request that would have allowed us to begin demolition in December, the City will have to wait until the first or second week of January to begin the work,” wrote Dyner-Harris. “Hopefully there will be no more delays.”

Thatcher Maintenance Yard Hearing for Coastal Permit was Heard

ThatcherMY

Not many objected to the demolition of the buildings on the Thatcher Maintenance Yard.
Planning sent notification after the hearing that the Coastal Development Permit had been granted.

What was brought up was the height of the fence, which originally was suppose to be 8 feet, and lighting and drainage. One person wanted to see community gardens on the fenced property and a park for kids. The hearing officer said he had received an input regarding using it for art.

It was explained that the property was still going to be used by Street Services to park their vehicles and that Sanitation was planning on utilizing property in the future and would discuss such with community.

Demolition is to start in December and go for three months. Hours can be Monday thru Friday from 7 am to 9 pm and Saturday from 8 am to 6 pm.